Based in San Diego, Calif., Saint Archer Brewery has a backstory as special as its suds: It's owned entirely by athletes, filmmakers and photographers from skateboarding, surfing and snowboarding -- giving new meaning to the phrase "board meeting."
Saint Archer's founder and CEO, Josh Landan, a filmmaker with deep roots in action sports, started his career with the surf film "Arc: A Taylor Knox Signature Series Film," and parlayed his passion for snowboarding into the documentary "Me, Myself & I" featuring Todd Richards.
For Landan, action-sports brands that are owned and operated by athletes have always been compelling, so he wanted Saint Archer to represent that same DIY ethos. Landan explained his impression of outfits like Girl Skateboards and the defunct surf accessories brand On A Mission: "It was the coolest thing in the world because you felt like you were supporting the dudes that you looked up to."
Top athletes are constantly being pitched sponsorship proposals from beer and liquor companies and offered huge endorsement deals by energy-drink brands. Landan thought to himself, "Why can't we do this with a craft beer? We know all these skaters and surfers and snowboarders and photographers and artists. What if they all invest and we all own this together?"
While on a filming mission with professional skateboarder Mikey Taylor, Landan explained his vision: "There have been so many beer companies that have tried to come in and influence our sports, but it's never come from within." Seeing the potential in the idea, Taylor eagerly signed on and helped in recruiting key players.
Along with Mikey Taylor, skaters who have invested in Saint Archer are Paul Rodriguez, Bryan Herman, Brian "Slash" Hansen, Sean Malto, Chris Miller, Shane O'Neill, Omar Salazar and skateboard photographer Atiba Jefferson. Landan also brought in surfers Taylor Knox, Dusty Payne, Laura Enever, Jeff Johnson, Josh Kerr, Chris Christenson and Derek Dunfee, along with snowboarders Todd Richards and JP Solberg.
When XGames.com contacted legendary surfer Taylor Knox, he explained, "I was excited to be a part of an athlete-based company because I know that people wouldn't be a part of it unless they really wanted to be."
Snowboarder Todd Richards proudly concurred, "I think the group that Saint Archer has assembled represents the best in all the board sports. All of us who are a part of the brand can just sit around and fan out on each other during business meetings. Not too many other brands in the entire industry have the kind of roster Saint Archer does."
For Taylor, part of the experience has been learning the art of brewing, which he naturally compares to skateboarding. "The world of craft beers, it's like getting into the world of skateboarding," he said, laughing as he explains his analogy. "You get your first Toys 'R Us board and then you realize there's a skateshop where you can customize a board. That was like the feeling going into the beer."
Fortunately for the athletes and discerning consumers, Landan has recruited two accomplished brewers to head up the task of making an unforgettable range of beers.
The Saint Archer's group of athletes has brought its considerable influence, whether it's magazine covers, videos, contests or social media, to the table -- with staggering results. Prior to launching their website or having beer in stock, Saint Archer's Instagram account had "more followers than 99 percent of the breweries out there," according to Landan.
The team is savvy to the allure of marketing, Taylor explained. "Even though my world is so different than Todd Richards', who's a snowboarder, who's so different than Josh Kerr, who's a pro surfer, we all do share one thing in common, and that's California," he said. "That's really what this brand is -- it's our image of California. It's a lifestyle brand, not a skate brand or a surf brand."
Richards summed it up perfectly, saying, "Really, it's selling the board-sports lifestyle in a bottle."
With more combined action-sports wins and individual titles than any other beverage company out there, these owners are inspired by competition and are going in for the kill. Knox expects that "our competitive nature will come in wanting to be ranked at the top in the beer industry."
Starting with a blonde ale, a pale ale and an IPA, Saint Archer will be available in stores this March. To learn more, head over to their website, saintarcherbrewery.com.